Releasing a film titled Bullet Train must be perversely ironic for UK union leaders during a series of rail strikes but that’s where we are with this new Brad Pitt actioner where he plays Ladybug an assassin fresh out of therapy and determined not to use a gun again for the job his handler asks him to do as a last minute favour. It is a simple smash and snatch job to pick up a briefcase aboard a Tokyo to Kyoto bullet train. But he’s not the only assassin on board with twins Tangerine & Lemon (Aaron Taylor-Johnson & Brian Tyree Henry respectively) a pair of potty mouthed killers who have been charged with bringing home the son of violent villain White Death (Michael Shannon) and the sought after briefcase he has in his possession. Added to this are assassins prep girl Prince (Joey King), widowed Wolf (Bad Bunny – a casting agent with a sense of humour we’re guessing) and killer Kimura determined to seek vengeance on the person who pushed his son off a rooftop and added to this also is an extremely venomous escaped snake and a conductor determined to check tickets. All find their own stories intertwined in unexpected ways.
Director David Leitch has been at the forefront of a new era of action films having had an uncredited role in directing John Wick before moving onto Atomic Blonde both of which have an array of inventive and frenetic set pieces and on that front Bullet Train does not disappoint with an assortment of items used as weapons when Ladybug finds that his refusal to carry a gun on the mission could cost him dearly. Bullet Train has a load of short bursts of this crack combat in a confined space which builds towards a balls-to-the-wall battle amongst all of them and more in one stupendous smack down on a speeding train. It’s cartoonishly, if at times extremely gruesome, violence with Brad Pitt doing his slacker cool schtick effortlessly amusing which only sits awkwardly in one scene where a female dies as he quips his way through her death throes. Pitt again shows just how coolly comic he is but he is closely contested for laughs by Aaron Taylor-Johnson as a cockney killer who chews up every scene he is in to deliriously funny effect. The rest of the cast that include Michael Shannon, Andrew Koji, Zazie Beetz but especially Joey King offer good support and there are two unexpected laugh out loud cameos thrown into the mix too
With nods to ‘Smokin’ Aces’ , Guy Ritchie films and even the Gene Wilder-Richard Pryor comedy, ‘Silver Streak’ this is wildly entertaining and slickly stylish, if a little overlong, ride.
Watch the Bullet Train trailer HERE